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Drama Bomb Finale

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Many shows are tempted to do big finales, but the nature of the story is just too low-key for a Grand Finale.

More common is an otherwise comedic story trying its hand at a dramatic moment near the show's last episode or two, totally out of left field. This usually involves the separation of one character from the others, the realization that the isolated character was important to the group, and the co-star (and his friends) having to chase him down and get him back.

Bishoujo series seem particularly fond of this formula, even though it seems like a really obvious attempt to install pathos after having Filler pad the story.

This has been done in British shows, where a season might be six episodes, and a series might be three seasons. Blackadder Goes Forth is an especially memorable example, which is all the more remarkable since it came from a series which had played the deaths of all the characters at the end for comedy in the first two seasons.

Compare Sudden Downer Ending and Leaving You to Find Myself.

Warning: spoilers ahead!


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Ojamajo Doremi has this as its series finale, and is pulled off quite well, considering it's Doremi herself that gets the Heroic BSoD...
  • Dokidoki School Hours ends with the realization that Mika might not be teaching anymore due to marriage... though falls on its face after the meeting.
  • Someday's Dreamers II: Sora is for the largest part a fairly lighthearted Slice of Life affair—until it is announced out of left field that Sora has a terminal heart condition, to which she succumbs after fulfilling her late father's wish.
  • Excel♡Saga. The drama properly starts a few episodes before the finale. Of course, with the show's trademark genre-hopping, a few serious emotional episodes were to be expected.
    • And then it spirals into utter insanity in the very last episode, although that one isn't actually canon.
  • School Rumble Yakumo & Karasuma in particular.
  • The second season of Hanaukyō Maid Team is particularly a victim of this. The maids and slice-of-life were abruptly destroyed by ACTION, FIGHTING, and other such things in the last couple episodes.
  • The Rozen Maiden anime is a huge culprit of this. After spending the majority of the show switching between lighthearted comedy and action-filled drama, Souseiseki decides to stop playing around and to win the Alice Game, but instead gets killed off by Suigintou in the process. This in turn triggers Hinaichigo's death in the following episode, clearly cementing that playtime is over in the anime, and the remaining dolls spend the final two episodes duking out in an extremely drama-filled Final Battle. And the worst part is that the ending leaves a lot of openings for another season.
  • Ouran High School Host Club's anime ends this way. It's a comedic series, though a few episodes near the end had a more serious tone, but the second to last episode ends with a huge bomb being dropped on the audience (and the main characters!) and the last episode is full of drama.
  • Tatsunoko's 1969-70 anime Hakushon Daimaō, a very cartoony gag series, ended on a downer note with the genie being forced to leave Earth for 100 years.
  • Potemayo attempts to do this by revealing the back story of Sunao's mother in the second to last episode, as well as aiming it seem that Potemayo and Guchuko were dead in the final episode, although they turned out to be merely unconscious and recovered by the end of the last episode.
  • And Yet the Town Moves accomplishes this trope by adapting the "And Yet the Town Moves" two part chapter, which features Hotori getting hit by a truck while she is reading of her failure to get her story published and then spending the majority of the story in the afterlife, as the final episode. While there is still some humor in this episode, it still ultimately gets played in this way.
    • They attempt to do this in the penultimate chapter, which also features Hotori in a harrowing situation: she is abducted by aliens and forced to choose saving her town at the cost of her own existence, or letting it happen to the tune of 13,000 people affected. She chooses to save the town and is erased, but the actual consequences for this action were already seen in the "Fantasy Novel" chapters, where she dramatically breaks free from an alternate universe and manages to see a new side to her neighbor. The real final chapter defies this, as it focuses on a school play, but the wording intentionally makes it look like a dramatic followup to the penultimate chapter.
  • Dokkoida?! did this with its final two episodes. The show had been an episodic Status Quo Is God comedy, but the last two episodes were substantially more serious than the rest of the show, and included some truly epic action.
  • While Fruits Basket had its serious moments, it spent most of its run as a fluffy romance. In the final storyline, Tohru falls off a cliff and is severely injured, prompting Kyo to seriously think about their relationship for the first time and admitting to himself he loves her.
  • Episode 24 of Osomatsu-san, in seasons 1 and 2 does this:
    • Season 1's segment "Letter" was about almost all of the Matsuno brothers quitting their NEET lifestyle and moving out of their parents' house one by one to get jobs... except for Osomatsu himself, who stays behind and is clearly broken up about his brothers leaving. Then episode 25 completely averts this when Osomatsu gets an invitation to play a baseball game and the rest of the brothers immediately quit their jobs in order to participate, returning to the show's usual comedy. This is a Gag Series, after all.
    • Season 2 instead has "Cherry Blossoms", when the Matsuno family takes a devastating emotional blow when Matsuzou nearly dies and is hospitalized. The brothers actually do try getting jobs and shaping up this time, but all of it is quickly subverted again when a plane crashes their house and the brothers end up in Hell for the real finale.
  • Sayuri Tatsuyama's Happy Happy Clover series is mostly lighthearted and fun but the series started taking a very serious tone starting in volume 4 and especially volume 5. The fifth volume's stories while still lighthearted start getting more serious until the finale, where Rambler is trying to save the forest animals from an oncoming forest fire and Clover sacrifices her life to prevent the fire. She gets better though.
  • The final Urusei Yatsura story arc, "Boy Meet Girl", and its anime film adaptation "The Final Chapter" is considered this: a stranger who appears on earth named Rupa claims to be Lum's fiance, while the climax of the story arc has Lum and Ataru repeating their game of tag, where, if Ataru fails, then everyone's memories with Lum will be erased. Ataru wins when he shows Lum her old horns to show that he cares for her.
  • Codename: Sailor V spent most of its run as the Denser and Wackier Prequel to Sailor Moon, but the final act results in Minako finding out the love of her life is the Big Bad, her awakening fully as Sailor Venus, and killing the man she loves to stop his plans, with his parting words telling her she will always choose duty over love. Minako then leaves home to find the rest of the Sailor Senshi.
  • Despite most of the series only being shown through previews, Hoshiiro Girldrop manages to pull this when its 11th episode was previewed in the Pop Team Epic anime. What normally would show snippets of a lighthearted Music Story inbetween Daichi and Sosogu's budding romance instead shows a flashback of Daichi losing his memories of Sosogu after an incident where she sacrificed herself, and him growing to love her again despite the memory loss to the point where he's trying to prevent her second death.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 881(Papaya). A comedy film ends with one of the main characters (Who is terminally ill) succumbing to her disease.

    Live Action TV 
  • Every season of The Big Bang Theory ends with a Drama Bomb Finale.
  • Blackadder finished with everybody dying in series one, two, and four. The fourth, which until then had used life in the trenches for Black Comedy, did not play this for laughs. The over-patriotic George suddenly realizes "I don't want to die", Baldrick asks why they can't just go home, and Blackadder's desk-jockey rival is horrified to learn General Melchett's sending him to the front so he won't miss the fun.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine is generally a low-stakes comedy, but the first four season finales all end on more dramatic notes.
    • Season one: Jake leaves on an undercover mission, and the risk this presents prompts him to finally admit his feelings to Amy. His undercover status is resolved fairly quickly the next season.
    • Season two: Wuntch manages to get Holt transferred. This one takes a few episodes of season three to resolve.
    • Season three: Jimmy "The Butcher" Figgis threatens the lives of Jake and Holt, forcing them to go into witness protection in Florida.
    • Season four: Jake and Rosa are framed for bank robbery and *convicted*.
    • Averted come season five, which ends with Jake and Amy tying the knot. The sole cliffhanger is whether or not Holt got the Commissioner position.
  • Season Six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (otherwise not a low-key show) went along somewhat slowly. Then Willow went insane in the last four episodes.
  • Charmed: While Season 3 was certainly the most intense season by that point, the season's major story-arcs had all but wrapped up (Cole and Phoebe being the sole exception) and the last few episodes had been meandering towards the end, when suddenly magic is exposed, Piper is shot dead, time is reversed, Phoebe and Leo are trapped in the underworld and Piper and Prue are stuck on the surface, grievously injured and without a healer. Cut to credits.
  • Coupling does a slightly different version of this. It's not a death, but a birth, the culmination of the pregnancy that's formed the basis for a lot of the comedy in the fourth and final series. But the final few minutes are played completely serious.
  • The last episode of the fifth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm ends with Larry's death. It doesn't last, though.
  • Downton Abbey appears to be making this officially a thing. The first series ended with the announcement of World War 1; the second series ended with the arrest of Bates on the charge of murdering his obnoxious wife. The war itself was pretty anti-climactic and had little serious impact on the family that wasn't somehow reversed. The third looks like it's going to avoid it, with Mary and Matthew blissfully welcoming their son, until Matthew dies in a car crash in the final moments.
  • Subverted on Everybody Loves Raymond. A doctor announces that they are having trouble resuscitating Raymond after a very minor surgery, but seconds later he is completely fine. Debra then made everyone swear not to let Raymond's mother know about the near-death experience, since it would bring out the worst in her motherly overprotectiveness. The episode did have a little more emotion than usual, but otherwise it had the same tone as any other episode of the series.
  • Lexx, which had for the most part had been humor of the WTF variety, turned quite dramatic in the final episode, most notably the death of the Lexx, Kai's return to life only to die, and the destruction of Earth. (Although to be fair, some of the show's subplots and backstories were kind of tragic to begin with.)
    • The destruction of Earth was actually a very clever part of it; Lexx being the show it is, very few viewers doubted that it would happen as soon as it was shown on-screen, but as season four progresses, it seems to become increasingly unlikely, to the point where the audience is seriously questioning whether or not it will happen with many close-calls ultimately prevented by the crew instead of caused by them like usual. The finale seems to take this further, with the crew trying to save it from a different threat until 790 pulls the trigger. By the time it finally happens, the audience has essentially been fooled into thinking Like You Would Really Do It applies, and it's genuinely dramatic instead of a gag like it's been for the entire rest of the show.
  • Red Dwarf ended Series 6 with "Out of Time", a typical funny episode. However, they are attacked by their evil corrupt future selves right at the end (literally within the last 3 minutes), and one by one fall, until only Rimmer is left to do a Last Stand, and it ends on a cliffhanger.
  • The final episode of Seinfeld subverts this. The plane malfunctioning with the main cast in it certainly sounds like this trope, but it lasts for all of a minute (with the characters continuing to say funny things, even) before going right back to the show's usual pure comedy.
  • Most of the light hearted Super Sentai series, such as Go-onger, follow this trope. The darker ones, however, (such as Changeman or Liveman) are serious already so the finale episodes generally are of the same tone as the rest of the series.
    • Power Rangers Turbo does this. all of the Rangers' weapons are destroyed, Zordon is captured, the Command Center is stormed and destroyed, and Divatox is moments from laying waste to Earth before she is called off by Bigger Bad Dark Spector. Justin stays behind while the four remaining Rangers, depowered, go into outer space on a possible suicide mission.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look:
    • Parodied initially in the second-to-last episode, in which Mitchell and Webb as themselves discuss the possibility of ending the series on this. It ends, surreally, with them feeding cast member James Bachman into a wood chipper over a caption of "SOD CANCER".
    • The last episode itself plays this straight, with the final sketch showing the (dark, bleak) life of an old, dementia-ridden Sherlock Holmes.
  • Parodied on an episode of World's Dumbest...: Judy Gold imagines a sitcom about a woman and her pig (which were the focus of a segment), which would end with the pig falling in love and the woman making a bacon sandwich and crying while eating it before a fade to black.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dinosaurs is a lighthearted sitcom featuring a family of talking dinosaurs, though episodes often focused on modern social issues. The Green Aesop series finale ends with corporate greed causing an ecological disaster so severe that it plummets the world into an ice age that wipes out the dinosaurs.

    Video Games 
  • EarthBound (1994) spends most of the game being a quirky, silly, absurdist take on RPGs with a generally idealistic tone, but in the final area of the game, the game drops all humour, transfers the party's conciousnesses into robots, and sends you into a cavern in the past to destroy a monster before it can destroy the world.
  • Sonic Heroes looks and plays rather light-hearted at first, especially considering what came before it, but things slowly go to hell as the main villain (who is not Eggman, for a change) reveals himself.
  • The season finales of the Sam & Max: Freelance Police games tend to be somewhat Darker and Edgier than the rest of the episodes, like Hugh Bliss putting Sam through magic-themed torture devices as Max watches in Season One or Sam & Max having to visit Hell and stop Armageddon in Season Two or Max becoming an Eldritch Abomination and being Killed Off for Real in Season Three.
  • The first installment of Wasted Youth is basically Bully as a Flash Game with absurd situations, crude humor, and outlandish characters. Then after the main plot wraps up in rather shaggy fashion, you discover the missing girl's corpse buried in a shallow grave on the sports field. Cue Cliffhanger, credits, and some major Mood Whiplash.
  • In Magic Pengel, everything leading up to the Kingdom finals is either happy, or, at the very least, sad in the way one would expect from a kid-friendly JRPG. Once the finals hit, however, the game becomes extremely dark, especially considering its target audience.
  • Spark the Electric Jester 3 seems like a lighthearted game about the titular hero making a stand against Fark, the Rogue Protagonist from the previous game who took over the world under the pretense of stopping an evil A.I. named Clarity. There's a strange lack of plot aside from cutscenes detailing the tragic backstories of the villains from Spark 2, and once Spark confronts his Robot Me, it is revealed why: Clarity assimilated everyone on the planet into her network and disposed of their bodies after Spark ended up taking her sleeper agent into the Fark Force's headquarters. Spark had been stuck in a simulation the whole time, reliving his final quest and subconsciously attempting to improve his performance for over two thousand years.

    Visual Novels 
  • Heart de Roommate is for the most a fluffy slice of life comedy with the odd burst of drama for flavour, generally kept upbeat even through the more serious second half of the game by the cheerful, quirky characters. Then you get to the downright dark finale, featuring an honestly suicidal new character with a very dark backstory and a nasty Non-Standard Game Over for the incautious. The epilogue on the other hand is a straight Bittersweet Ending, actually made all the more effective by the previous happiness.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend does this twice. The first game is mostly an extremely silly dating sim involving birds, then you unlock the "Bad Boys' Love" route which opens with the dismemberment of the former protagonist and ends with an attempted genocide. Then comes the sequel, which is two silly, light-hearted chapters, one rather surreal chapter, and then the entire cast being imprisoned in the afterlife and nearly forced into an Assimilation Plot by the vengeful spirit of a bird murdered by one of the love interests.
  • Mystic Messenger is generally a light-hearted game that still has humorous moments and dialogue even when things start getting more serious at the end of a character's route. The secret endings that resolve all the game's plot threads and mysteries, however, are 100% heavy drama featuring an abusive relationship, a character being Killed Off for Real, and a Brainwashed and Crazy character attempting to strangle his brother.


    Web Original 
  • The last act of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has aspects of this, but it didn't come out of nowhere; the setup for the sudden attack of tragedy had clearly been building since the beginning. However, it was significantly aided by the usual(ly) Joss Whedon cruelty.
  • The infamous YouTube channel "Behind the Meme". Instead of the usual meme description, it is a five part video of the creator falling into depression and committing suicide (the last episode was taken down and replaced with one that narrates what happened over innocent stock footage, though the original video was reuploaded elsewhere on YouTube). A postscript video was later released explaining that the finale videos were a dramatization of how he felt, and that he wants his subsequent videos to move in a different direction than covering memes.
  • Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls starts as a So Bad, It's Good slice of life Fanime. It ends, however, with the main protagonist dying of "a broken kokoro".

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: The finale has one of Eddy's scams backfire and seriously injure the neighborhood kids to the point the kids seek to kill the Eds, regardless of legal or holy consequences. It also shows Eddy's older brother routinely abusing him, and the movie ends with the Eds finally being accepted by the other kids, with no Snap Back or Reset Button or anything.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: The series is mainly an episodic light comedy, focusing on humorous interactions between the crew, the Cerritos getting in bizarre situations, and poking some fun at Star Trek conventions and idiosyncrasies. Its season finales tend to significantly ramp up the drama.
    • "No Small Parts", the first-season finale. A captain from a previous episode is ambushed by a monstrous-looking frakensteined spaceship and her ship is destroyed with no survivors. The Cerritos nearly suffers the same fate but for Captain Freeman's quick thinking and she is severely injured. Shaxs dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to save the ship and rips out Rutherford's implant in order to allow his escape, leaving Rutherford with no memories of the first season. Then the crippled Cerritos is attacked by three more of these enemy ships — and then the Titan (Captain Will Riker's ship) pulls a Gunship Rescue.
    • "First First Contact", the second-season finale. The Cerritos is dispatched to support the Archimedes in a First Contact mission. It goes south when the Archimedes is disabled by an EMP and nearly crashes into the planet in question when the Cerritos pulls a risky stunt to save both the Archimedes and the planet. Freeman then carries out the mission in question, and the crew celebrates her success when three Starfleet officers arrive... and arrest Freeman for allegedly destroying Pakled Planet and lead her off the Cerritos in handcuffs. To be continued...
    • "The Stars At Night" already starts on a sad note, and a lot happens after that—Freeman has caused Mariner to resign from Starfleet and torpedoed her own reputation in the process. The entire California class is set to be decommissioned in favor of the automated Texas class, and Freeman's attempt to prove her crew is better through a mission race fails due to a delay on one of the planets. Things get better when she realizes the USS Aledo violated the Prime Directive, but then Rutherford realizes that the Aledo runs on the same type of AI he used to create Badgey and has likely malfunctioned in the same fashion, resulting in it coming to light that Admiral Buenamigo, who commissioned the Texas class and is a friend of the Freeman family, is an Insane Admiral who has been deliberately setting the Cerritos up to fail for the Texas-class sales pitch. Then Buenamigo grants the Aledo autonomy against Rutherford's warning, resulting in the ship murdering him, activating two more Texas-class ships, and ravaging Douglas Station and the first ship that answers the distress call. The Cerritos is eventually forced to lure the unhinged ships away from the station, almost leading to its destruction when the Aledo survives an ejected warp core. Fortunately, Mariner saw the crisis on the news and has rallied the entire California-class fleet to save the heavily damaged Cerritos, returning to Starfleet once everyone's back at Douglas Station.